The "All Black Everything Summit" was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. When stay-at-home orders first went into effect, I started to do an Instagram Live series called "Conversations with Global Pros" on my personal account as a way to stay motivated and engage with my community. As a full-time professional makeup artist used to being out and about, it was clear I would be stuck at home for the foreseeable future, and my work had come to a halt. The series started to take off and was doing very well. More importantly, I was having fun and the DMs I was receiving made it obvious my followers were enjoying the content, too.
"If I were white, I'd be a millionaire by now." — Finding Strength in my Family's History to Fight for Change
My father's uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. My father's family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. And as a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies.
My name is Tracy Garley, I was born in the West African country of Liberia, and moved to the US at the age of eleven. I attended Western International High School in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Food Industry Management. I'm the owner of West African lifestyle brand Zarkpa's, founder of West African catering company Culture in a Bowl, founder of City Girl Big Dreams, and CEO of its sister brand, GoFundHer.com. In each of these roles, I try to create opportunities for girls and women to transform their dreams into reality through collaboration and social networking.
As a mental heath clinician, I was fascinated by the podcast on NPR One last spring entitled "The Shrink Next Door" (produced by Wondery and Bloomberg) for several reasons. For one, it is an alarming story of betrayal and of a degraded mental judgment on the part of the patient that occurred in this day and age, this century, which is probably the main reason for most of the shock. However, I have to say that most shocking of all was the tepid response to Marty Markowitz' initial conclusive complaint and the many steps that he had to take to receive an appropriate interest into his remarkable story of psychological mistreatment and betrayal. His damning complaint took four whole years to review, and it was not even completed at the time of the story's broadcast. What's more, it appears that once the responding agency got wind of the media attention following the story's publication, their handling of the issue changed for the better — which is even more discerning and telling of American culture and its feckless systems.
The murder of George Floyd was a lightning rod galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighting the vast inequalities that remain within our society and economy. Perhaps among the most striking of these is the widening racial wealth gap with Black families holding roughly one-tenth the wealth of white families. One key to ushering in a new age of greater social and racial equity lies in narrowing the vast wealth and earning disparities among the Black population, and Black women specifically.
I've worked in Human Resources for nearly a decade, and throughout all my roles, I've passionately incorporated diversity initiatives to help make companies more inclusive. Recently, many businesses have made public pledges around diversity in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Statements are one small step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.
Racism is a multifaceted monster that thrives on visual and audible cues. From elementary to high school, as a person of color, I experienced what I can only describe as counter-cultural racism. I felt severely isolated and often degraded by the Black community. As a result, I had many more white friends than Black for most of my life. As I got older, my interactions with white women would sting with traces of biased and superior behavior. This was painful and unexpected, and again, I felt isolated and at times degraded.
When the coronavirus outbreak hit New York City, I was terrified. I work for a social service agency in an office building in lower Manhattan, and I was in a panic over being exposed and, even worse, bringing the virus home to my children. My older son Trey is 13 and on the Autism Spectrum, and my daughter Aja, who is 8, were both still in school at the time. I had been advocating to work from home for more than a week because of an underlying autoimmune condition — I received no response.
Melissa "MJ" Jacques is the Director of Human Resources at Mustache Agency, a Brooklyn-based full-service creative content agency. Since joining Mustache in 2019, MJ has spearheaded Mustache's first-ever intern program, "Content-oisseurs," and promoted various internal and external diversity, inclusion, and company culture events that have bonded Mustachers. More specifically, MJ created Lunch and Learns focused on embracing Black History Month and Pride, as well as supported black-owned businesses for event specific needs. Additionally, MJ has established relationships with various companies with aligned missions, partnered with Sparked for multiple agency networking events (with diversity at the forefront of recruiting), and worked with Cutter for women-driven screenwriting and networking events.
Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke is a former United States Secret Service Agent and current consultant in the fields of forensic and clinical psychology and professor at George Washington University, where she teaches Abnormal Psychology and the Psychology of Crime and Violence. Mary Beth holds a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology, a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She is also the author of " The Protector: A Woman's Journey from the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World's Most Dangerous Places"
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.